Chow down for a good cause

The Villa offers Sunday brunch buffet as fundraising tool for groups

— When you grab an extra helping of bacon and French toast at a Sunday brunch buffet at The Villa, the warm feeling you get isn’t just from indulgence, it’s from helping a good cause.

The Villa Tuscan Grille, an Italian restaurant in Rotterdam, started serving Sunday brunch buffets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 13 as an inventive way to help local groups and charities. Proceeds from the first buffet benefited Rotterdam Pop Warner and on the following Sunday, the Rotterdam Storm, a Catholic youth organization basketball team, will benefit.

Peter Guidarelli, owner of The Villa, said he wanted to continue supporting organizations, but making a straight donation can be difficult in these times.

“It is very tough for small businesses to keep writing sponsorship checks like they used to,” Guidarelli said. “For the last several years we have done a lot of donations of gift certificates or food in general for different organizations and last year we hosted several events at The Villa for a very nominal amount to cover the cost.”

Guidarelli said the inspiration to host a buffet came from his customers and employees, who are active in community nonprofits.

Since Sunday is traditionally a family day, he said he’d aim to keep it affordable. At first, Guidarelli will donate at least $1 from every brunch to the group benefiting that week, but he hopes the idea will take off and allow for a larger portion of proceeds to be donated.

“If it goes real well then we can donate more,” he said. “If we find that it takes off real well, we will see what more we can do.”

Staying connected to Rotterdam youth sports and the schools has been important to him, but the restaurant has also donated to several organizations, including Proctors, The Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern NY and the City Mission. Recently Guidarelli has seen an increase in groups seeking donations or raising funds, too.

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